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RSF concerned as president, other high officials make pro-censorship comments, justify attacks on journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is worried about recent comments made by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and certain government ministers and ruling party legislators indicating a desire to step up censorship of the independent press.

"The repeated scathing comments about the independent media can only aggravate the climate of hostility between the press and government," RSF said. "We urge the Senegalese authorities to respect the work of the media and allow the media regulatory body to do its job."

On 26 July 2008, in comments made during a news programme on state-owned Radio Télévision Sénégalaise (RTS), Farba Senghor, the national secretary of the ruling Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), told party members to boycott pro-opposition media and called on government and public-sector agencies to "suspend all advertising contracts" with such media.

During a recent visit to Chicago to attend a meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists, President Wade referred to two journalists - Boubacar Kalbel Dieng and Kamoyho Thioune - who were beaten by police during a football match in June in Dakar's Léopold Sédar Senghor stadium. Wade said it was the journalists who provoked the incident.

Asked by CNN reporter Rolin Martin if he was prepared to condemn the beating of the journalists, President Wade replied: "Who is a journalist? They are politicians!" He then went on to claim that most journalists are corrupt.

RSF issued a press release on 26 June condemning police violence against journalists in Senegal.

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